Ichiro NagaiNorio WakamotoYoshiko SakakibaraChisa Yokoyama
Black Magic M-66
Medium: film
Year: 1987
Director: Masamune Shirow, Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Writer: Masamune Shirow
Actor: Chisa Yokoyama, Ichiro Nagai, Kazuyuki Sogabe, Kozo Shioya, Kyoko Tongu, Mahito Tsujimura, Norio Wakamoto, Shinji Ogawa, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Yu Mizushima
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 48 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=260
Website category: Anime old
Review date: 20 May 2024
Black Magic M66
To my surprise, I enjoyed it. I'm not really a fan of Masamune Shirow (best known for Ghost in the Shell), but this is a one-shot OVA based on an amateur manga of his from a 1983 fanzine. In other words, compared with his more mature work, it's not very Shirow-like. There's lots of military action, but its characterisation has human touches. Soldiers react to their friends' deaths, drink coffee and discuss how people feel about the situation. Assistant commanders make bad jokes.
It's still a crack commando unit. No doubt about that. They also inject people with sodium pentothal... but they're likeable and I was happy to follow their operation.
Incidentally, this is the only time Shirow was director, scriptwriter, storyboarder and the creator of the original manga. He also, though, had a co-director in the experienced Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who'd worked on everything from hentai (Cream Lemon) to comedy (Golden Boy) and mecha action (Mobile Suit Gundam). Kitakubo will have added a lot to this film.
The plot's straightforward. Two M-66 robots escape (actually the work of enemy agents) and go on the rampage. What's their target? Do they even have one? They're military robots, unfortunately, so it can't be good. These robots are quite interesting, actually, owing a debt to James Cameron's Terminator while giving his ideas a manga twist. If M-66 ever fought a Terminator, I'd be betting on Shirow's version. They almost look like women, but they can throw trucks at you while scuttling like spiders, rotating their heads inhumanly and jumping like acrobats. They also have eye beams and a self-destruct system involving darts and poison gas.
This is good fun. They can tear through soldiers like tissue paper, but fortunately the military also have gadgets. The elevator scene with a doughnut magnet is the film's tensest scene.
The film also has a civilian protagonist. She's a tough-as-nails reporter who'll do anything for a scoop and at one point is the only person who knows who the M-66s' target is. If you're not expecting sophistication, I'd recommend this one. It's short, so it won't eat much of your time. It's violent but not gory and it has an understated sense of humour. It's good for a laugh. You could probably run this as a Doctor-less Doctor Who episode (albeit with a much simpler plot than usual) and it would work like that too. My children would probably enjoy it.